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Hold The Salt . . . But Not Completely

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Where would we be without salt in our lives? We’d have a lot less high blood pressure . . . and also a lost less flavor, right?

Salt has been fingered as the culprit in causing high blood pressure and contributing to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Doctors routinely suggest curbing salt-intake as one of the first steps to healthier living. New York City has even taken steps to gradually reduce the amount of salt restaurants add to their dishes.

But salt is also a basic nutrient, it adds flavor and life to otherwise dull dishes, and new research shows it is not necessary to cut too much of it out of your diet.

The Institute of Medicine currently recommends consuming between 1500 and 2300 milligrams (less than 1 teaspoon) of salt a day, but many doctors recommend an ultra-low sodium diet to patients more susceptible to heart disease. However, new, preliminary research from the Institute suggests that going lower than 2300 mgs does not add any health benefit. The study showed that patients on an ultra low-sodium diet actually had more hospital re-admissions than those on a medium-sodium diet.

The results of the study may be a little surprising, but don’t get too excited about letting the salt flow more freely: most Americans consume way more than the recommended daily allowance as much as 1000 mgs more. A burger and fries from McDonald’s contains the recommended daily allowance on their own.

So while going too low with our sodium intake may be something to be aware of, it’s not something most of us need to worry about. Instead, we still need to moderate our salt intake from the upper limit. Moderation in all things means not too little but also not too much.

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